2008 August


As researchers with a focus on government and private-sector actions that benefit the bottom of the pyramid, LIRNEasia has an interest in understanding poverty and who is poor.   This summary report by the Economist gives a good overview of World Bank and ADB research on the subject.  Of course, those interested are recommended to go to the sources for the real thing. BTW, for those who wonder why we keep saying that South Asia is the home to the world’s largest concentration of poor people, the answer is that the World Bank states that 595.5 million people live on below USD 1.
One key difference between natural hazards happening in Asian countries and similar hits in the West is the possibilities of them turning to disasters. While in west the timely issue of early warnings and evaluations lead to the reduction in casualties, many Asian countries still suffer from the lack of such arrangements. We hope the early warning in New Orleans will reduce the damage by Hurricane Gustav – a luxury unthinkable by the vast majority of the people of Burma and rural China. This is from BBC: The mayor of New Orleans has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the entire city, as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the US Gulf Coast. Ray Nagin said residents of the city’s West Bank should begin moving out at 0800 (1300 GMT) on Sunday, with the East Bank leaving at midday (1700 GMT).
Babar Bhatti, who maintains an interesting website on Pakistani telecom developments, has written an interesting post where he calls for simpler tariff plans. Having seen the graphical presentation of Dialog Telekom’s tariff plans in their nice new publication, 077, I am convinced that there is a need for simplification in Sri Lanka too.  Surprisingly, I cannot find the publication, or the graphical presentation of the tariff plans, on the Dialog website. Informed consumers exercising consumer sovereignty are the basis of competitive marketplaces.  If they cannot figure out the prices they are paying, how can they be sovereign?
One of the key debates on broadband is between those who believe in “all you can eat” service packages and pricing and those who do not.  Our research so far indicates that broadband can only be provided to the Bottom of the Pyramid using the same kind of business plans that were effective in providing mobile service to the BOP, that is, not all-you-can eat. Comcast, a leading US ISP, has just announced caps on downloads.  If this is the future for rich country users, can there be any doubt about what the future for BOP users in poor countries?
Ten years ago, pretty much all the traffic went through the US Internet backbone. Today, claims are being made that only 25 per cent of traffic is routed through the US system. This may require changes in LIRNEasia’s (and Singapore’s) efforts to improve broadband quality of service experience through benchmark regulation or otherwise, using as one of the measures, Round Trip Time to the Internet cloud, defined as first point of landing in the US.  An alternative will not be easy to come by, but we have faith in the wisdom of the many.   Please contribute.
Sri Lanka will build a state-sponsored 250 metre tall common broadcast tower for television, radio and telecom firms, information minister Anura Yapa said. “The building of towers in a haphazard manner cannot be allowed,” Minister Yapa said. “The tower will be a national icon, like those in China, Kuala Lampur (image) and Tehran.” Sri Lanka’s telecom regulator Priyantha Kariapperuma said the tower will be located in Peliyagoda in the greater Colombo area and will have a public observation gallery and a restaurant. The tower will be built at state cost, but a private investor may be attracted later, he said.
It is the same story everywhere. Broadband prices are falling, so the early adopters pay more than newbies – unless they switch fast. To make the matters worse, operators have started selling the same packages with new prices – in the same manner an Airline bringing ticket prices down at the eleventh hour to fill the seats. This is the tirade of one user. UK customers are paying 70% more than they need to for their broadband connections despite the credit crunch.
Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Dr. Muhammad Yaseen has said that data usage is increasing in Pakistan and proliferation of broadband services will help establish Information Society. He was talking in a seminar on The Future of Mobile Communications in Pakistan. Chairman PTA said that for mobile phone industry future direction could be value addition and innovation in services including mobile commerce, video streaming, and high speed mobile internet. He said presently broadband costs are high in the country but broadband usage was showing growth in the recent quarter.
Bangladesh and India are set to compete for the same set of telecom investors with Bangladesh announcing auctions for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum close on the heels of India unveiling its BWA policy. However, while Bangladesh’s policy is designed to attract fresh competition by keeping its existing operators and their shareholders (foreign and Bangladeshi) out of the spectrum bids, India has opted for a different route. India has restricted BWA bidding to only those who either hold an ISP or a unified access service (UAS) licence, thereby either forcing companies to acquire ISP/UAS licenses before the bidding or keeping away new entrants who are unable to acquire such licences due to price or time constraints. “Other contrasts are equally striking and show up uncomfortable flaws with India’s auction guidelines,” says a telecom analyst. While India’s BWA guidelines are just four pages, Bangladesh’s is a 57-page invitation for applications for grant of licence.
Leading Democrats on Tuesday attacked the Bush administration’s broadband policy and the technology track record of GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, while leading tech companies pushed for a more tech-savvy and innovative federal government. “The Obama campaign is the broadband campaign and the McCain campaign is the dial-up campaign,” said Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecom and the Internet. Markey and other members of Congress were on hand at the Democratic National Convention in Denver for several technology panels hosted by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado. “On McCain’s watch, the U.S.
A leading US adviser to the Iraqi telecommunications network reconstruction effort is circulating an extensive critique of progress there, charging that Iraq badly lags on development of core fibre infrastructure, faces a massive ICT training shortfall and has erred in rewarding politically-influential US vendors with supply contracts. Bob Fonow, who completed a 18-month stint as senior consultant, telecoms and IT at the US State Department in Baghdad earlier this year, also charges that the recent military surge has seen the US Department of Defense command excessive influence in telecom reconstruction, often in areas where it has insufficient expertise. For example, Fonow talks of a “very pleasant buck sergeant” assigned to advise the Ministry of Communications regional director in Tikrit who’s job back home in Arkansas was to stack Wal-Mart shelves, while a reservist Navy captain software executive from California was assigned the task of booking meetings for a visiting Defense official. Fonow also charges that the so-called “fusion cell” or consensus approach exercised by the US military may be counter-productive in telecoms, retarding decision making and discouraging the civilian sector from standing on its own feet. Read more.
The U.S. needs a broadband policy targeting unserved areas that’s backed by action, not just words, said several speakers at a technology forum in Denver. The U.S.
Meeting the traget of a billion dollars of FDI in 2008 seems to rest on foreign investment continuing at a high rate in telecom.  After all, in the first half of the year, telecom brought in USD 291 million, out of a total of USD 425.  However, the increasing hostility to the sector driven by the JHU plus the decline in people’s buying power pulled down profits last quarter.  The largest mobile operator, Dialog, stated that its capital expenditures for the coming year will be cut by about 25 percent at an investment briefing recently. One cannot draw conclusions from one quarter, but do not be surprised if the first half of 2008 turns out to be the high point of investment in the sector.
Executive Director, Rohan Samarajiva will participate at the ITU Asia 2008 conference taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 2-5 September 2008.  He will talk about universal service at the opening plenary with the Indian Minister at the Telecom Development Symposium on 4th September. He will also give the keynote talk at the Business and Finance Session of the ITU Asia Youth Forum on 2nd September, chaired by Bosco Eduagive a rdo Fernandes, Vice President (BU & IM Industry Relationship), Nokia Siemens Networks GmbH & Co. KG (Germany). ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 is a key networking platform for Asia’s top ICT names to come together and focus on core issues relating to ICT expansion across the region.
Aug 26, 2008, telecomasia.net Asia’s emerging markets, comprising eight nations, are expected to see mobile subscriber net gains of 573 million by end-2012, breaching the one billion mark to close the year at an estimated 1.06 billion subscribers, a report from research firm Frost & Sullivan said. In 2007, these emerging markets were home to some 487 million mobile users, accounting for 37.1% of Asia-Pacific’s total mobile subscriber base, the report said.
Iran is expected to announce a tender for a third GSM license in the country within the next few days, but may be required to offer generous terms to encourage investors into the country. The political interference in the tender for the second mobile license is still causing legal problems at the International Court for Arbitration. Turkey’s Turkcell started international arbitration procedures over difficulties it experienced in launching a new network in Iran. Turkcell, though its 51% owned subsidiary – Irancell, originally signed an operator license with the Iranian government in 2004, but it fell foul of a clamp down on foreign investments by the conservative Parliament. The Parliament accused the company of having links with Israel – and after a year of battles, the license was reissued – this time to South Africa’s MTN Group.